Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bad Segeberg, Germany

I'll admit I was a little weirded out by this card, which shows a bunch of German people dressing up as cowboys and Indians (Native Americans). I got it for the June RR, and I think it was chosen for me because it has horses on it. And the horses are pretty... but it's still weird.

Bad Segeberg is a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, and is primarily known for its annual Karl May Festival, which is pictured on this card. Karl May was a prolific German writer of the late 19th/early 20th century, who wrote several stories set in the American West. Ironically, although May believed that all people should live together peacefully and his characters usually avoided killing others, Adolf Hitler was a big fan of his books, and had them distributed to German soldiers at the front in World War 2. Okay, maybe that also explains why I find this card slightly disturbing.

The stamp on the left shows the world's largest dinosaur skeleton and the 3,000-animal "biodiversity wall" at Berlin's Museum of Natural History, commemorating its bicentennial.
I cannot for the life of me find the stamp on the right anywhere on the Deutsche Post website nor on Google image search for any likely combination of keywords. Can anyone help?


  1. Stamp on the right is from the series: 4 seasons. It's featuring winter, with the winter months in bold letters (december, january, february, march). The tree is supposed to be an oak in the forest "Reinhardswald".

    To the Karl-May-Games: The books are classics in young adult literature in the German speaking countries. Especially boys have always been fascinated by cowboys and native Americans. There were also movies in the 1960s I think. I don't think that these Games are disturbing, they are just Games as there are Medieval festivals or Highland Games or stuff like that.

  2. Thanks for your help with the stamps!

    As for the weirdness of this type of festival: while in some measure, yes, you can equate it to a medieval festival or Highland Games, there will nonetheless always be an element of racism in anything which celebrates the stereotypical "cowboy and Indian" theme, and part of that racism involves white people playing the role of Indians. It's not all that far removed from white people dressing in blackface. I suspect that non-Americans have a very different sense of the level of offensiveness of such "games" (for example, see this post These types of issues are still very much in debate in the United States... and no one can plausibly deny that racism is not fully alive and well here when you think about such cases as John Williams ( and Trayvon Martin (

    I have no idea how much American history is part of European school curriculum, but I doubt much, if any, attention is given to the history of Native Americans. For anyone who is curious, I highly recommend the book "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," which may give you some idea why lighthearted games (and books, and movies, particularly if these are presented as historically accurate or are part of school curricula) celebrating the "wild west" might be offensive to Native Americans.